Console: Sega Game Gear
The genre du jour during the Game Gears heyday was rollicking side-on platformers, and Land of Illusion is an exemplary entrant in the canon. The main Mickey sprite is large and full of expression, with the environments appropriately bold and detailed, demonstrating just how far Sega had come in terms of getting the most out of the hardware since Castle of Illusion a couple of years beforehand.
But it’s the level design that elevates Mickey above even Sonic to take the crown as Game Gear’s best game. With an ever-expanding move set allowing the mouse to revisit previously-passed areas and discover hidden items, the game even has longevity beyond the final boss as you seek out every last hidden bonus in search of the perfect completion run. The soundtrack is full of some of the 8-bit machine’s finest tunes and there are plenty of Disney cameos along the way too. They simply don’t make ’em like this any more, which is a real shame. This is AAA-quality gaming, just in 32 colors on a tiny, fuzzy, 2D screen. And it’s wonderful.